My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Hallowe’en Confessions

I’ll admit it: I’m a Hallow-weenie when it comes to Hallowe’en. I’m the cranky old lady who turns out all the lights and pretends she’s not home when the trick-or-treaters come around.

It all started many years ago. I lived in the U.K. when I was a kid and back then (wa-a-a-a-ay back all those years ago) there was no trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en. We lived in a village just outside London where a few other American military families lived as well, so I think we trick-or-treated amongst ourselves, but it was really not the same.

And when we returned to the U.S., my brother and I considered ourselves far too old and mature to dress up and go out on Hallowe’en.

So my current lack of interest can be traced back to my deprived childhood.

I live in a high-rise condo where there are few children anyway. In past years the condo association would host a party for the kids on Hallowe’en, but I’ve seen no mention of it this year. But they do have signs in the management office that you can post on your front door if you want trick-or-treaters. Because the only treats I have are sock yarn, I won’t be posting a sign on my door.

Though can you imagine the reaction if I dropped a skein of sock yarn in a kid’s bag?

Speaking of sock yarn . . .

Here’s the second Diamond Gansey sock.

Diamond Gansey Sock 103107

Diamond Gansey Sock 103107

Yesterday I mentioned that a pattern like this should be knit in a solid color yarn to show the texture. There was a comment asking if one could use a hand-dyed tonal as well. I think you’d have to be really careful and be prepared for disappointment. As another comment, Liz in IN said:

Sometime a tonal colour variegation adds enough to the look that it offsets any loss of crispness. But for a gansey-sweater or sock-solid colour yarn is the way to go, imo. It’s all about the stitches.

I tend to agree with her.

Liz went on to ask:

Speaking of splitty yarn-have you found that you can tell by looking whether a yarn will be splitty? Some yarns, sure, it’s pretty obvious that it’ll be a fight to the finish. But I’ve been surprised, too: some (v popular) yarn that I figured would be virtually split-proof turned out to be…not so much.

The answer for me is . . . sometimes. I wouldn’t have thought this Louet yarn would be splitty, but it is a little. I think how we knit and hold our yarn contributes to the “to split or not to split” factor as well. So your mileage may vary. 😉

Okie-dokie — no blog entry tomorrow, as I will be busy with some special guests. I may or may not be back on Sunday, or I may wait til Monday to return to the blog.

Lucy Sez

Lucy 103107

Lucy 103107
“What? Momma’s not taking me out trick-or-treating tonight? Bummer”


  1. Trick-or-treating for sock yarn? Where do I sign up?

  2. I keep the lights off too. Not out of crankiness, but there are no kids in the apartment ghetto land where I am. I’d eat all the candy (and have). No lights, no candy, no candy eating.

    But I’d go trick or treating for sock yarn!

    I like the sock- the pattern really pops in the solid, light color. There are so few solid color sock yarns in our two local lys (lyses?) and on line shopping could be dangerous!

    Hope the hostessing goes well and isn’t taxing!

  3. It might be evil of me, but I do covet all of your beautiful sock yarn. If I thought any of my neighbors might be handing out yarn, I would be searching for a costume right now!

  4. If you dropped sock yarn in my youngest child’s treat bag he’d head right home & request more socks. He once spent his entire allowance on sock yarn.

  5. I love halloween, and if that’s what treats you have, can I trick or treat at your house? I’ll take yarn over candy any day.

    One thing that I love doing (though I’m not doing it this year) is trick or treating for the food bank. I’m too old for parents to really want to hand out candy to me, so instead I go trick or treating for canned goods and non-perishables. With Canadian Thanksgiving done and over with the food bank can really use a bit of extra help right now.

  6. Isabella Casser says:

    No costume for Lucy?

  7. I’d come by your house to trick or treat if you were giving away sock yarn (frankly, it’s the only way you’d get me out trick-or-treating)! The gansey socks look lovely 🙂

  8. I keep the lights out too. No treats, no kids in weird clothing. No pumpkins or witches. People have absolutely no clue on what the real significance of the day is! As for knitting socks with variegated yarns, I agree, even lace patterns sometimes look weird to me. Handpainted is even worse!

  9. Christine says:

    My two boys said that they will give me any sock yarn they collect tonight :-).


  10. Hmmm – I’m in the UK, and I’m a Brit – we’re kind of getting Halloween over here these days. I’m afraid I don’t like it. Partly I simply don’t like the message that extortion is OK – even for one evening. (I know, I know, that’s a bit OTT, but still.) And partly, because it’s not our holiday, we’re doing it rather badly. There is nothing organised, just random people knocking on the doors of random houses. Which leads to it all potentially getting rather intimidating – for example most people don’t seem to recognise the code that if the hall light is on it’s OK to knock, but if it’s off it isn’t. And the ‘trick’ part becomes an excuse for petty vandalism (all the flowers in the window boxes on nearby street were wrecked last year). And then there was the year my elderly mother, alone in the house at the time, had her doorbell rung repeatedly by the same group of teenagers. She was fine, but it was still fairly unpleasant for her at the time.

  11. Sock yarn for trick or treat? If only….

  12. We’ve been in this house 20 years and not had a trick or treater yet. This year may be the exception although I’ve told both new neighbors I would prefer that their children/ grand-children do not come. The outside lights are out as they normally are and I’ve got some bite sized sugar-free granola bars to discourage any courageous little buggers – I mean trick or treaters. I would, however, answer the door for any little Lucy who may come to my door and hand out Temptations all night long (or until Perry P’s two bags were exhausted!)

    Hope your recovery continues with no complications. Have a good weekend and enjoy the company.

  13. Glad to know I’m not the only Hallo-weenie! Argh – I swear everyone must drive from miles away to torture my neighborhood by dropping off their kids to cruise the houses for candy. Because of the late time change this year, at least I was able to drive to my house without fear of hitting one of the many many little beasts. Lights out = bliss (she says crossing her fingers).

  14. I live in the middle of nowhere, so Hallowe’en is pretty quiet. When my kids were little, we did it up big time with spooky noises and decorations — it was more of a contest in our neighborhood than Xmas (that was when I lived in town, obviously).

    The second sock is as lovely as the first. I want that pattern and Hearts for Heidi. Well, because it’s for Heidi. And I like hearts.

    And Lucy would give you the thrashing you deserved if you dressed her up. As Ramius said on Melanie’s blog, that sort of nonsense is OK for the dog things, but not for cats. >^_^

  15. Amen to that! But, I feel exactly the same way about all holiday’s anymore. I don’t like ANY of them. Not a single one has any meaning since my DH came into the picture and my Father passed away. Bah humbug.

    I have to say, if I WERE to trick or treat, I would be EXTREMELY happy to get a skein of the lovely sock yarn you knit with, however Or even better, a pair of socks! The new ones are my favorites to date I think — but I think I say that with about every new pair — I am easy when it comes to your lovely designs, what can I say!

    Glad you’re feeling well enough to knit!

  16. I always keep an easy knitting project handy for Halloween; so that a couple dozen trips to answer the door doesn’t interrupt my train of thought.

    We have always had small polite children usually with their parents and I love to see all the little kids having fun. I’m hoping that this year will be no different.

    The only difficult part is to make sure the dog and cats don’t seek out with all the door opening.

  17. I like Hallowe’en and my kids (3 of them) are out trick or treating right now. _THEY_ know to NEVER go to a house that isn’t all lit up. That would be rude and uncivilized. I think that in 17 years in this town, kids have rung the doorbell after I turned out the outside lights once. The system works pretty well.

    I know that the origins of Hallowe’en are very different than what we do, just like the origins of most holidays celebrated in the US are different. But Hallowe’en is celebrated as an exclusively secular holiday, and that is fine with me. It’s pure fantasy, and that is fun.

    Shortly I will post picts of my son’s jack-o-lantern on my blog. He’s nine and used a pattern..but wow!

  18. Yeah – I’m not such a big fan of Hallowe’en either. I just don’t feel good about handing out candy number one and I really don’t like how greedy some seem when they come to your door. And since my sweetheart is rarely home that evening I’m not really thinking opening my door with an inquisitive cat and a madly barking and growling corgi would be all that fun. Well, fun in that it would scare the beejeezous out of kids but not fun trying to keep all in and hand out some candy that has by that time become mangled from the door struggle. So, I turn the lights out and hide and have a grand time doing it! Cheers!

  19. Fewer than 3 dozen T or T’ers…bummer…I love the kids in costumes. Have fun with your special visitor….I read another blog and am sure I have it figured out. Your Gansey socks are really pretty…I have been wanting to do a Gansey pattern but I knit cuff down so am still looking for a pattern. Take care, rest, relax, knit, pet Lucy and feel better soon.

  20. We stopped handing out candy after the first two years in our house. We live on a one-block island between two busy streets. So, all the kids go to the friends’ houses on the other side of the streets where there are more houses. The last time we gave out candy, we had about 10 kids come…and five of them were our next door neighbors. So, now I just bake goodies for the kids next door and turn out the lights to the rest of the world.

  21. One should, or should not, participate as one chooses, of course! But a hint for those that do and struggle with doors….we take out the screen/glass in the top half of our screen door, so that the cats don’t run out, and we don’t bump into the toddlers fumbling with their bags.

  22. Oh my! I never knew Halloween was so controversial. I think that it is much too elaborate these days and I wish things were more like they were when I was the goblin. But no candy? Sitting with the lights out? Not me.

  23. Martha in DC says:

    I am with you, as a single woman who lives alone, I don;t open my door to strangers and especially with masks. My daddy did not raise a fool. Fortunately my condo has a big party in the ballroom for all the children. So much better for all the children.

    Now I am with the rest of the others that if you are giving out yarn to the trick or treaters, I’ll put on a costum and be right over.
    Have a great weekend. P.S. love the latest pattern. I may have to try it.

  24. Y’all can drop a skein of sock yarn into my trick-or-treat bag anytime! LOL…I may even have to have my kids travel over to see if it would work. Of course, it may take more time than we have, as the kids don’t have the latest in warp speed traveling gear.

  25. Heck if I had known sock yarn was even an option I would have dragged my poor child (albeit cute lion) around to every high-rise condo in Northern VA forcing him to knock on all the dark doors with no signs! Good thing I didn’t read this till after he’s safely in bed.

  26. Wendy in Cambridge says:

    Halloween is my favorite holiday and it has been since I was a child. I just got back from some very active trick-or-treating (although I’m in my sixties) with two good friends–one is seven and one is four. It was wild and wooly to be sure!
    One fairly long street is blocked off to traffic, and ALL the houses on that street have elaborate decorations. It’s just incredible. And very crowded!

    Hmmm–although I love candy, I’d be more than delighted to receive a skein of sock yarn in my bag!

  27. I’m sitting in the back of the house, facing the woods, with the glow of my laptop screen providing the only light. We don’t have many kids, but they’re primarily the older ones (teenagers), and they can be more obnoxious than cute. They will have trashed the neighborhood by 10:00 PM.

    I grew up in North Africa, in the Libyan desert. The lack of neighbors or kids to pal around with pretty much made Halloween a non-event, so I guess my childhood was somewhat deprived in that aspect as well. It’s not something I regret.

    Enjoy your special guests!

  28. I know a few kids that would be thrilled to get sock yarn in their goody bag! ; Happy Halloween! I’d like to dress up as a napping Lucy doll…

  29. I like the trick or treaters…especially the little ones who just seem overcome when you show them a bowl of candy and tell them to take some. Have fun with Sheri!

  30. I love living in an area where only the nieces and friend’s kids come trick or treating. I usually get two maybe three kids other than nieces (the nephews live too far away) and I get to decorate without all the begging.

  31. I am so coming over to your house if you give away sock yarn on Halloween!

  32. Barbara-Kay says:

    Oooh, sock yarn! Trick or treat! (holding her knitting bag out and smiling fetchingly) You would have no complaints from this “big kid”. VBG!

  33. I am not a kid and I am not coming in costume, but can I please come trick or treat at your house???

  34. Hallowe’en is gradually infiltrating Australia – but not with my assistance. The local children know to avoid our house, even my children object to “trick or treaters”. Leaving the lights off is not really an option – with daylight saving in force, we are still relatively light at 8pm. I really object to the importing of foreign celebrations just to make a quick dollar. This year I noticed a lot more kids out and about – in groups and in costumes that were more sophisticated than a couple of years ago.

  35. I have to jump on that Hallow-weenie bandwagon. I don’t get trick-or-treaters where I live (uphill and upstairs, etc.), as an adult I don’t do the party scene, I’ve never liked wearing a costume in the workplace, about the most I’ll do is go watch the little kids costume parade my town holds every year.

    I’ve started exploring the El Dia de los Muertos traditions instead – much more to my liking.

  36. If you’d been in Scotland instead of England, you would have had plenty to join in with at Hallowe’en. It wasn’t so horror-based as the American one, and it was more something that kids did than adults, but there were plenty of parties, dressing up, and traipsing around from door to door doing your ‘turn’. We called this ‘guising’ and the children who did it were guisers. There were special games to play at the parties, mostly involving food and loss of dignity. Lanterns were made out of turnip, not pumpkin, which was very hard work and not conducive to making pies. Guising is done much less now because it’s not thought safe for children to wander the streets, but American-style entertainments are more popular, which dull old people like me complain about.

  37. My child would look at a skein of sock yarn and scream with delight, “Mommy, knit me socks NOW!” I’ve knit 4 pairs of socks this fall and none for her and she has let me know that this is completely unacceptable and bad parenting to boot. (She’s five and learning to knit, but knit is about all she’s up to at present. Purl has yet to be tried.)

  38. I never trick or treated as a child. I lived in an apartment complex in NY City, and my mother was a working mom who couldn’t go with me–so to be sure I was safe, she didn’t let me go. Now that I live in the ‘burbs, I see that things are a lot different when kids can wander (under supervision) from house to house. Neighbors were very kind when my son was small. So I buy candy and reciprocate, but I wish I didn’t feel obligated to do so. The number of trick or treaters varies from year to year, and I’m often left with a lot of candy that I don’t want to eat and feel bad throwing away. (Now if I could get or give Halloween sock yarn, that would be much different!)

    I love that Gansey sock. I also agree that when you’re using a pattern you want to show off, the yarn color should be monochrome.

  39. I’m so glad to know I am not the only one who does not understand the whole Halloween concept. I can never figure out what to do with all that leftover candy–except eat it! No-o-o-o-o, don’t want to do that! Next year I’m hiding like you. I’ll still be busy running on the treadmill anyway.

  40. Theresa in Italy says:

    When I first moved here (17 years ago) no one had heard of Halloween, and that was just fine with me. Now it’s become very popular but it’s still mostly for kids and it revolves around parties, no trick-or-treating. Given the level of security surrounding most Italian homes (medieval castles spring to mind, minus the moat), I don’t think trick-or-treating will ever catch on. Thank goodness.

    I think I know who your special guests might be! Have fun!

  41. I knitting Asparagus Cable Socks now in a colorway that is going to completely overwhelm the pattern… oh well, I can see it.

  42. Sometime I think that because I am a right-hand thrower it affects how much a yarn will kink up for me or split. I have no scientific experimental evidence to back this up, but I am thinking that throwers and pickers will have different experiences with a yarn splitting or acting overplyed (kinking up and needing to be unwound periodically while knitting).

  43. Louise in Maryland says:

    I LOVE Halloween! Always have. Dressing up, going door to door in the dark, the leaves crunching underfoot…..Trick or Treating isn’t as universal as when I was a kid, but I encourage all and sundry to come by my house for candy.

  44. Since we have 4 dogs, we don’t give out candy on Halloween. Once the doorbell rings, the dogs will bark non-stop, and it windes them up so there is no peace. Also, we live at the top of a steep hill, with another 15 steps to the front door, once you’ve scaled the driveway. We just leave the lights off and usually that’s enough of a hint. Imagine our surprise when our doorbell rang last night and there was a group of kids and their parents standing there in full costume. Imagine their surprise when my husband said, “Sorry, we don’t do Halloween.” Imagine our surprise when one of the parents called my husband an a**hole. HUH? The lights were off. Isn’t that the universal code for no trick or treaters?

    On topic, Wendy, love the Gansey socks. Because of you, I’m taking a class to learn socks on 2 circs. 🙂

  45. OOoooh, which town? I ask because my dad taught at London Central High School in High Wycombe, which catered to the children of military families.

  46. Wendy, your first paragraph is nearly an exact quote of my own statement to anyone who asked me yesterday if I was ready for the trick-or-treaters. The sad thing is, I live in the same neighborhood where I grew up (trick-or-treating every year) and more than half the 15 households on my little road are still the same families who gave me candy. Now I shut off my lights and won’t open my door to their grandchildren. Hallowe’en Grinch, that’s me.

    My niece is pretty persistent, though, and wouldn’t go away until I came to the door. I gave her a can of Spam.

  47. You might be surprised. As a young teen knitter, I would be thrilled to get a skein of sock yarn! It’s more fun and healthier than chocolate.

  48. We never get any trick-or-treaters where we live either, so I never have candy (which I would just eat anyway) so if some little goblin showed up, he/she would get a can of creamed corn — WHAT — you think I’m giving away my sock yarn????

  49. Trick or Treat we want sock yarn not candy, that is a great Idea Wendy

  50. A Skein of sock yarn!!! I”m on my way!! I had 10 t or ters last night 2 of which were my neice and nephew, they were all really cute and polite esp the baby dressed as a little devil in her mommys arms!! I agree about dressing up cats, it can be dangerous tho I did have one who even at the age of 21 just loved to be dressed up in baby clothes wrapped in a blankie and carried around 🙂 The 2 I have now, if they had front claws, would try to rip my throat out if i even thought about it, LOL Has anyone really tried to dress up a 15lb Manx that is very agile, it isnt easy 🙂

  51. Ok, I don’t comment very much, but I had to on this post! My girls (ages 5 & 7) would love to trick or treat at your house! Everytime we go to the yarn store they are always picking out sock yarn for me to make them new socks. The other day one of their friends mom asked me how I make socks because her daughter told her she wanted her mom to make her socks because Lucy’s mom does! You should have seen the look on her face when I told her I knit them!

  52. When I went trick ‘r treating last night, all I got was candy. Sock yarn would be so much better for your teeth, not to mention last longer!!!!

  53. Trick or treat?

    Hey it was worth a try— you SAID the only goodies you had were sock yarn…. I’d dress-up for that;)

  54. Just include me in the trick-or-treat, yarn drop, okay?
    Especially having an idea of what’s in your stash!
    Have a great weekend!

  55. michigancatholic says:

    I don’t like Halloween either. I wish there was something more appropriate for kids to enjoy. Dressing up as a monster to go scare people and beg food is weird. And “tricking” is, after all, vandalism. All the emphasis on blood and mayhem is also weird. I’ve never liked it.

    We live way out in the country and seldom get even one T or T’er. It’s a good thing. I just have to keep my one old indoor/outdoor cat in for fear of violence toward the sweet old thing.

    Halloween is also undergoing some kind of change. There are a lot of pagan ceremonies that are appearing on this date.

    Also, I read recently that people are spending huge amounts of money on this, second only to Christmas. I don’t get it.

  56. Ah, a fellow military brat. What branch was your father in (I’ll make the assumption it was your dad)? Where did you live and for how long? It’s an interesting life and one I was glad to have though I wasn’t so sure when I was growing up.

    My father was 32 years in the army. Panama, Spain, various parts of the US. Alaska after I left home. WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the usual. It wasn’t until I saw his grave in Arlington that I realized how much war had defined his life. Even my mother was in the British service during WWII – they were married in uniform.

  57. You’re gonna want one of these DPN holders- they are beautiful! Handmade- lovely wood- I just got mine and LOVE it!

    I blogged a review-

  58. Congrats on the finalist designation for the Blogger’s Choice Award. Not bad!!!!
    PS I hate halloween, too. My grown daughter loves it. I just don’t get it at all.

  59. Je suis une lectrice française de votre blog, il est incrit dans mes favoris…I’m a french and I read oft your blog…By us, our bellhouse does’nt ring oft ! because this fest is’nt famous in France and I prefer….
    A bientôt ma prochaine lecture,

  60. Charlotte says:

    I know that you’re an Alice Starmore fan. Have you seen the Oregon Autumn cardigan in the holiday Vogue Knitting? Where do you purchase yarn for her fair- isle patterns. I’ve seen the virtual yarns web site and I’m concerned that the yarn may be out of my price range — but the cardigan is so beautiful!! Do you have any suggestions?
    I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope your surgery gives you relief from the pain you had all summer.
    Love your blog, Charlotte

  61. i love your web site and of course Lucy 🙂
    kiss of france